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Hurricane Sandy debacle for elderly in nursing homes

Troubling news is coming out of the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and the Nor 'easterner that have recently hammered New Jersey and the Eastern seaboard. It appears that those in most need of assistance evacuating the storms and also most likely to suffer due to the cold and lack of provisions have in many ways been left to fend for themselves.

Recent revelations regarding the recommendations by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Gov. Andrew Cuomo in of New York reveal that they recommended that nursing home residents and their caregivers ride the storm out rather than deal with the difficulties of evacuating. These decisions by government officials and those facility directors who heeded their advice left thousands of elderly, disabled, and otherwise incapacitated residents at the mercy of the storm and now the elements.

Without backup generators, medical supplies, provisions, and eventually running water, it is unknown yet if these decisions led to any deaths as a result, but it did indeed cause much suffering. Under With cold and desolate conditions, residents were unable to be evacuated for up to three days after the initial storm with and were left without no power and with dwindling supplies. Once evacuated, many residents were separated from their doctors, nurses, and those who knew their needed prescriptions. Family members also had difficulty locating their relatives.

While it is difficult to plan for a "once in a lifetime" storm such as Sandy, these situations demonstrate the importance of choosing a nursing home and facility that puts your family member and their dignity first and foremost. Prior to entering a care giving home, a visit can provide important feedback in being able to personally and intimately observe the facility, its staff, the treatment of the tenants, and the possibility of interviewing those living there and involved in the operations such as the director of the facility.

It is also important for you to plan as an individual for you and your family's desires when it comes to aging and care. Just as you think through and plan your retirement prior to actually discontinuing work, you should look at all your long-term care options and begin to choose which may best fit you, your family, and the desired outcomes.

Source: The Times Picayune, "Even after Hurrican Katrina, nursing home residents in Hurricane Sandy's path asked to stay put: Jarvis Deberry," Jarvis Deberry, Dec. 4, 2012

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